The 43-62 Cubs are turning things over to the kids.
According to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, third base prospect Josh Vitters and outfielder prospect Brett Jackson are headed to Los Angeles, where they’ll be added to the active 25-man roster before the Cubs’ series-finale Sunday against the Dodgers.
Vitters, the third overall selection in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft, has registered a cool .304/.356/.513 batting line, 17 home runs and 68 RBI in 110 games this season for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. The 22-year-old from Anaheim, California will take over starting third base duties from Luis Valbuena.
Jackson, 24, was the 31st overall pick in ’09. He was batting .256/.338/.479 with 15 home runs, 27 stolen bases and 47 RBI in 106 games this summer at Iowa and will presumably play all over the Chicago outfield.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.